Donna Brazile at KU
On the Sebelius HHS nomination:
“Kansas is coming to Washington, D.C. Thank you for sending your governor. I’m telling you she has one major responsibility with over 14,000 Americans losing their health insurance each and every day. I know Governor Sebelius is up to the challenge.”
Rush Limbaugh challenging President Obama to a debate:
“Sorry, Mr. Limbaugh, but he’s busy right now. He inherited a huge mess.”
About women seeking the presidency:
“I know that it’s our turn and that we must prepare ourselves to take our position at the table even if we have to bring in folding chairs.”
Her conversation with Obama when two superdelegates would have given him the nomination:
“He said, ‘I admire (Hillary Clinton) so much. I’ve learned so much from her.’ He was so complimentary of Senator Clinton that I grew to like him even more that night.
For Donna Brazile, it was a glimpse into history she wants to see fulfilled.
The political commentator and Al Gore’s former presidential campaign manager sat a few feet from President Barack Obama on Jan. 20 at his inauguration as the country’s first black president.
“I envisioned sitting there that one day that I would be back on that platform to witness our nation’s first female president. It felt like that,” Brazile said Monday at Woodruff Auditorium in the Kansas Union.
Brazile was at Kansas University to give the Emily Taylor and Marilyn Stokstad Women’s Leadership Lecture about women in politics to hundreds of people, whom she often had laughing with her anecdotes.
“For now, we have a president who will champion our cause,” she said.
Brazile, a syndicated columnist and frequent CNN and ABC contributor, praised Obama’s work so far on signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act and other issues. She also said the country was fortunate to have two women in prominent positions: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
But she said old traditions and certain things like cultural and media bias still exist.
“We have to be ready to lead. We have to move out of the so-called gender box,” Brazile said.
Even the current number of women serving in Congress represents less than 20 percent of total members in the House and Senate.
“We have to convince women that it’s OK to run and support other women who are seeking public office,” she said.
The coming years will take more women willing to run for public office and to challenge incumbents in office, she said.
“It’s time to reshape our country as we begin to deal with tough issues, like health care and climate change,” Brazile said.
When Gore prepared his run for the presidency, he approached her about leading the campaign, but she told him, “If this is a token, window-dressing position, you might want to find someone else.”
She hopes that in the coming years in politics, women “get more people on the battlefield to protect what we have gained.” The staunch supporter of the Democratic Party said the success of Obama’s and Clinton’s presidential campaigns can provide inspiration.
“As a young girl growing up in the Deep South, the segregated Deep South, I never thought I would see this day,” Brazile said.
The lecture was administered by the Hall Center for the Humanities.